When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Jessica Sarubbi, a junior at John F. Kennedy High School, could not sit idly by.
“I love helping people,” said Sarubbi, 17, of Bellmore. When she heard stories of the “exhausting” work being done by a close family friend and infectious disease specialist at the North Shore University LIJ Hospital, “I knew I wanted to do something,” she said.
“Those doctors didn’t even have time to sit down and order lunch for the day,” Sarubbi added. “They go all day working and don’t even have time to order meals for themselves.”
To lend her support, Sarubbi kick-started a GoFundMe page and spread the word to family, neighbors and her school community. Her younger sister, Brooke, also contacted the principal of her school, Grand Avenue Middle School, and the fundraiser quickly made its way to its teachers and faculty members.
With more than $2,800 collected — and with the help of local eateries Town Bagel, The Pit Stop, Hunki’s Kosher Pizza and John Moore’s Deli — Sarubbi sent more than 550 catered meals to the staff at LIJ.
The deliveries were made over several weeks starting on April 13, each consisting of a bountiful supply of food on large platters.
Aside from her fundraiser, Sarubbi’s altruism can be found at school, too. In October, she started the Student Humanitarians for International Education club, or SHINE, at Kennedy, which garnered roughly 30 members. They set up a holiday toy drive for children in Guatemala and established a pen-pal relationship with a group of kids there. The club also donated $500 to Brick by Brick, a non-profit that helps build housing in Uganda.
The focus on Guatemala stems from Sarubbi’s younger sister, who is adopted from the country. Through the non-profit For the Love of Mateo, her family sponsors a child to help them attend school.
“Having seen how fortunate we are compared to so many people around the world, it made me feel like we live such fast-paced, materialistic lives,” Sarubbi said. “Others live with the bare necessities and they’re happy — that perspective helped start my passion for helping people.”